Monday, 18 May 2015

Our Microbiome.

We probably all grew up knowing that germs were bad and yogurt was good for us - even if we didn't know it was the live bacteria in yogurt that made it so healthy. What recent studies and discoveries in science are starting to show us more and more is the connection of the two, or how beneficial bacteria help you fight bad germs you encounter and keep you healthy. That's straightforward enough, but it turns out that the bacteria does so much more than even that! This bacteria (in supplement form, this is called a probiotic) builds your immune system (and your baby's!) and helps you fight off bad bugs, digest your food, sooth your digestive tract, and the effects range ever wider. These good guys are what culture yogurt, kefir, and kombucha, and a myriad of other homemade or widely popular probiotic drinks and foods.
       Beneficial bacteria is one very important part of overall gut health. That's a very un-fancy word, but one you hear a lot when talking about the well being and impact of our gastrointestinal tract. Food allergies and intolerances, antibiotics and diet choices can all cause something called leaky gut, which, put very simply, is when our gut wall is damaged and starts to allow larger molecules and proteins from the food we eat to cross into our blood stream. Having a healthy barrier goes hand in hand with healthy gut flora, and both are necessary for optimal health. I highly recommend Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, which explains this further and gives her solution for healing a leaky gut with the 'GAPS diet.' (A great summary of gut health online is this one, by Chris Kresser.) We all need healthy bacteria, but it is important to remember that our whole lifestyle matters, and some may benefit from the GAPS diet, which focuses on healing the gut lining, or Autoimmune Paleo diet. I'm not a doctor, but I've heard incredible testimonies from both of these.

Another term for the trillions of bacteria living in our bodies is the microbiome. Here is a fantastic animated video to summarize its importance. It's only a few minutes but is a very helpful and fun explanation!

Since not many people read this yet, you may be familiar with the beginning of this blog when we got married, and then the (very) sparse posting in between. One of the things that happened along the way was the journey of our learning about natural health, mostly inspired in my first pregnancy. Maybe someday we can talk about that here! This has led to both Joel and I being really intrigued by the microbiome. Joel, because of the burgeoning research on the subject and the future of its science, and me because of its impact on health and healing with diet. There is much more to talk about, with new information coming out every day, but I hope this is helpful! 

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